30 March 2012

Thoughts while sitting in North Station

Actually, it is just possible that I might never have heard of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” were it not for Steve Martin.

Separately … even as someone or other (— no, don’t tell me, I could always search on-line —) wrote a Pluto to “complete” Holst’s The Planets … perhaps I should compose a musical reply to Ives’s The Unanswered Question.

25 March 2012

Back to the Avenging

Strange (possibly) to say of something which originally aired 5 April 1969, but:


If you’ve not yet see The Avengers episode “Killer,” do not read on. Unless you consent to the Spoiler.

Here goes:

Interesting that the episode seems designed as a break from Tara King. (I should note that, unlike the Mrs Peel episodes, which I did [re-]view in chronological order, I am not at all organized or ordered in my exploration of the Tara King season.) A bit amusing that the return of Tara from here vacation, and all the postcards she sent, play up the notion of her being schoolgirlishly besotted with Steed. (And why the heck not?)

The acronym for the “villain” is fun; the episode on the whole notches up the trippy element of the series. Although Steed is theoretically prepared for the final encounter (benefiting from such clues as the autopsies of the killed agents could provide) he’s signally lucky. Bit of a risk-taker, too: after the crushing “bookmarks” have made their attempt, he passes through with his brolly held laterally, but I cannot think it would serve as much prevention, in the event of a repeat smash.

The last bit beggars belief somewhat . . . if the fellow is clever enough to design and build such a machine, is he going to be stupid enough to shout at a keyboard typewriter with any hope of success? But then, of course, he would have been in a panic, and people do irrational things when they panic. Call that a draw.

In search of Francesco Giuseppe

I had seen the earlier In Search of Beethoven, and at the MFA, with Dr Cienniwa (harpsichordist for the première of Lunar Glare); and I can affirm that its reputation for excellence is deserved. For that very reason (even if I had not been additionally interested because of my recent application for Haydnista status) I should have made time for In Search of Haydn.

The new film is every bit as good — beautiful to watch, glorious to listen to in all its musical examples (the greater part of which are executed by PI [Period Instrument] ensembles/instrumentalists), and unflaggingly engaging in the interviews with conductors, performers, and yea, even the occasional historian — as that on Beethoven. (A fact which, incidentally, has me keen to check out his first effort, on Mozart.) If anything, this film had an added poignancy, since “Papa” is not anywhere so well represented on film as his more celebrated pupil (unless there’s a cult film out there on Haydn's Wig Hair).

Perforce it had an additional sentimental impact on yours truly, since so many of the musical examples are pieces I’ve heard for the first time within the past six or nine months — and because it echoed no few historical facts which I learnt first via Gurn Blanston’s [not his real name] biographical survey, over in Haydn’s Haus at the Good Music Guide forum. Visually it was on many points ultimate satisfaction of curiosity which I’ve nurtured since I was a mere slip of an undergrad, as the director brought his camera to the village of “Papa’s” birth, to the Cathedral of St Stephen in Vienna, to the Esterházy compound in Eisenstadt, and particularly to the grounds and some of the rich interiors of Esterháza itself.

In both films, the director (Phil Grabsky) worked with a great sensitivity to the subject, and with an admirable narrative detachment. The project is obviously the result of that combination of general historical interest and musical admiration, yet Grabsky keeps out of the way, and even his extensive use of interviews gives a sense both of academic balance, and of oral history — curious to say, since of course the subject has been dead more than 200 years. But then, of course, to us performers, composers both living and ancient become a sort of partner.

20 March 2012

Could be a mini-opera

Rather odd dream. Two women came over, and after perhaps a minute I introduce them to one another. “This is B— S—, a former girlfriend — and, this is M— S—, a former girlfriend.” And as I speak, I realize they are sisters, and of course, need no introduction one to another. Strange that they did not realize they were both former girlfriends, though maybe it was only one of them did not know.

Quite Mozartean/Da Pontean, really.

17 March 2012

As found on line

No doctoring (just cropped).

16 March 2012

Glare de lune

Some more virtual friends have now come to hear Lunar Glare.

Fame, one pair of ears at a time.

14 March 2012


Am inclined to press on with Plan A. New ideas coming in for the quartet. Composer up!

Remembering the darnedest things

Hadn’t thought about this forever . . . but a virtual friend’s comment on-line reminded me. And it is such a pleasant memory, too. Part of my high school endgame was an invitation to conduct the chorus in the benediction closing our commencement ceremony: Peter C. Lutkin’s The Lord Bless You and Keep You. In fairness, I hadn’t any idea, to-day, of the composer’s name – what a marvelous thing is the internet.

But . . .

. . . what I just didn't see yesterday, I may very well see, to-day.

Yesterday's reconsideration

Back in January, it seemed I had a ton of time to get a 7-minute quartet written for an April program. This month, though, time is just what I hain't got; so a Plan B is indicated.

I think I am apt to take one or two of the clarinet duets and adjust them for fl & cl; Peter H. Bloom & yrs truly would have no trouble whipping them into shape in ample time. Given the fact that Peter and Mary Jane are currently on tour, and I just don't see writing anything this week, I cannot believe that it is at all practical to have anything ready to be rehearsed in time enough.

11 March 2012


Quite by chance, I've learnt that John Cage's Cheap Imitation is the perfect music for driving nails into picture frames.

10 March 2012

The dreamer’s drum

although you
cannot hear
I dream of a drum
and when I beat
the dream drumhead
it is the world
the whole world
which is bedrummed
beauty flourishes
is my beat

Lt Bradshaw has left the building

Peter Bergman, roughly one fourth of The Firesign Theatre, has passed away. Or, he’s just gone to the showroom of yet another Ralph Spoilsport dealership . . . .

One internet tribute to the man who probably coined the term love-in.

09 March 2012

Ain't over 'til the pig pops out of the bass drum

Lawd, I can be late even to farewell parties . . . Dial ‘M’ for Musicology shuttered up a while back.

07 March 2012


Succeeded in tracking down my arrangement of Kingsfold, a hymn-tune of Ralph Vaughan Williams based on an English folk song. My arrangement carries a text proper to Palm Sunday, and Eric appears to like it — it may just go on this April, the first time in many a year. I think that, although my arr. is w/ piano accompaniment, Eric may play it from the console.

Thanks to the new recording to have come from St Paul's, fresh attention is trending towards the Nunc dimittis. In fact, the composer himself is focusing attention on 't for the first in a very long time. I like it!

06 March 2012

Nunc dimittis afresh

Recent performance at the Episcopal Cathedral here in Boston of the Nunc dimittis from my Evening Service in D (Op.87), which I composed while serving as Interim Choir Director.

Hunting down my arrangement of Kingsfold (with a Palm Sunday text) for my old buddy Eric Mazonson . . . .

02 March 2012

BSO 18 Feb 2012

Stéphane Denève back in Boston:

[ link → review ]

01 March 2012


Intriguing thoughts from Our Man in Delft:
Art isn't democratic. Every artist likes to be the centre of attention, and only a handful succeeds. A minority survives death. Why? There must be something in the work not just the life which fascinates and merits repeated viewings, readings, listens. There must be abundance, mastery, vitality, mystery. If an artist possesses all these attributes, he will continue to attract new customers, whatever the critics say. That many artists are not so lucky cant be helped life is short and you must make choices. Thats why I do think that comparing artists is useful it sharpens critical awareness and it saves time...